Constraint can breed creativity. So can an ad agency.
Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong wrote a long Twitter thread early Monday morning explaining how the company came up with its wildly successful idea to run a floating QR code for its Super Bowl commercial. He lauded Coinbase for landing an idea with a tight budget and little time to prepare, saying companies don’t necessarily have to work with an agency to create a solid ad.
“If there is a lesson here it is that constraints breed creativity, and that as founders you can empower your team to break the rules on marketing because you're not trying to impress your peers at AdWeek or wherever. No ad agency would have done this ad.”
Except, Coinbase actually did work with an agency on the ad, said Kristen Cavallo, the CEO of The Martin Agency. “It was actually inspired by presentations our agency showed your team on 8/18 (pages 19-24) and 10/7 (pages 11-18) with ad concepts for the Super Bowl with floating QR codes on a blank screen,” Cavallo tweeted at Armstrong.
Last week, Coinbase CMO Kate Rouch also credited the digital ad agency Accenture Interactive for its help on the ad. Rouch tweeted on Monday that multiple agencies, including The Martin Agency, suggested ideas with QR codes, but Coinbase ended up going with Accenture Interactive's idea to insert the QR code into a meme. “The meme as a conceptual underpinning was creative genius and a unique use of the QR code and was what unlocked our [Super Bowl] success,” she said.
Armstrong added to his Twitter thread shortly after Cavallo’s response and acknowledged the creative firm Coinbase worked with to create the ad. “Honestly, felt like we were all one team so I didn’t fully realize it, thank you!”
The Coinbase CEO had some other thoughts about what makes a good Super Bowl ad. He took a jab at companies that bring in celebrities to sell their products and said Coinbase apparently got some inspiration from Reddit’s preview Super Bowl commercial. But Twitter hasn’t quite moved on from his mixup earlier in the day.